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Guidance on HCP Attire to Prevent Infections

Guidance on HCP Attire to Prevent Infections

Healthcare personnel (HCP) attire is an aspect of the medical profession steeped in culture and tradition, according to Gonzalo Bearman, MD, MPH. “Apparel and appearance of HCPs have been linked with significant symbolism and professionalism, but we’ve recently increased our awareness of the potential role of attire in the transmission of healthcare- associated infections (HAIs).” HCP apparel can be contaminated with potential pathogens, but the role of clothing in the transmission of these microorganisms to patients has not been established. This has made it challenging to create generalizable, evidence-based recommendations on attire for non-operating room HCP. The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) recently analyzed available data on this topic and issued a guidance paper with reasonable recommendations for HCP attire. “The SHEA recommendations should not be viewed as a consensus guideline or as a standard of care,” explains Dr. Bearman, who was lead author of the paper and is a member of SHEA’s guidelines committee. “Instead, it’s intended to help acute care hospitals develop or modify policies relating to HCP attire.” The SHEA article evaluated and summarized the literature around the perception of both patients and HCP regarding attire in relation to professionalism and the potential risk for transmitting microorganisms. It also assessed the evidence for contamination of HCP attire and the potential for it to contribute to the transmission of pathogenic microorganisms in hospitals. In addition, a survey of the SHEA membership and SHEA Research Network was conducted to learn more about the policies related to HCP attire that are currently in place in members’ institutions. “Bare Below the Elbow” & White Coats The concept of...
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